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Toledo church stays strong during time of crisis to help those in need of strength

Bishop Chaz Boes says it has been difficult, but it is essential for his followers to attend church in person.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Vida Church International in north Toledo is shedding light on how they are navigating their service through this COVID-19 pandemic.  

The church and congregation agree--they are willing to follow all rules necessary to attend a place they call essential. 

"I recently had a very tragic life event and I know that if Vida wouldn't have been here for me, I may not have been here," said Crystal Gause, thankful for the praise and worship team at Vida Church International.

Followers at the church say they are strong believers in worshiping God together and in person. 

"I couldn't imagine myself or anyone that's a member here, as an elder or in leadership, not to be here doing what we're suppose to be doing: honoring our Lord," said Jose Bernal, who is the men's ministry leader at Vida Church International. 

However, the church has had to close down for roughly a month and a half when COVID-19 started. 

Bishop Chaz Boes was only able to reopen Vida's doors as of a couple weeks ago.

"We've had to resort to meeting within these four walls and we're doing like a lot of the restaurants. Please wear your masks in the waiting area. Please wear your mask coming in. Please sanitize coming in and then once you're seated, you can worship God freely," said Bishop Boes.

This is despite Toledo's mayor not making it mandatory for church-goers to wear a mask when gathering.

"The families that come together, we sit them together and we'll have spacing between for the rest of people to sit," said Bernal. 

The reopening does not come without acknowledgment of some of the hardships the church has been through.

"Our church alone throughout COVID has experienced tens of thousands of dollars of theft that is, we believe, because people are experiencing so much anxiety and fear with the lack of jobs," said Bishop Boes. 

But, Bishop Boes says the church is willing to jump through any hoops in order to continue services for its nearly 200 followers. 

"I don't know if this is over. I don't know if we're getting ready to go into the second wave or not. However, it is not our desire to close our doors anymore," said Bishop Boes.

It's a leap of faith they are taking to keep church-goers like Crystal Gause in a healthy state of mind. 

"Especially when you're going through an epidemic like this with COVID, you need some sense of normalcy and Vida is my happy place. It's my sense of normalcy. It makes sure that I know, at least spiritually which is huge for me, that I'll be okay in this time," said Gause. 

The church is currently holding two services, one on Wednesdays and one on Sundays.

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